Is God Trying to Tell Us Something?

Last week I was watching TV and was mildly amused to hear Adam Hills, in his comedy show “The Last Leg” (episode 4 with Jack Dee), declare ‘it’s as if God is saying “What else do I have to do people?”‘ He was referring to a week in which a series of extraordinary events were manifested, including lightning hitting the Vatican twice in the same week that the Pope resigned, an end of the world prophecy and a meteor hitting Russia.

Then, just this morning on the radio I heard a commentator say that all of the wild weather in Australia recently is making people sit back and wonder if there is some reason for it all. Of course he was referring to climate change from global warming, rather than a sign from a deity, but the two similar comments, coming to my attention so swiftly one after another, made me think.

Adam Hills is not a Christian, and in fact opposes some Christian views strongly, and the climate change commentator is also not a Christian, but isn’t it interesting that these two observations from vastly different spheres, both arise from a curiosity over events which are gaining world-wide attention. People are asking questions, “What on earth is going on?” They are taking notice of the changes and trying to find answers.

But are these world-impacting events arising from a “mythical” mysterious supernatural God, or can they be simply explained by science and rational reason?

According to the Bible, God is trying to tell us something.

Jesus says:

“When evening comes, you say, ‘It will be fair weather, for the sky is red,’ and in the morning, ‘Today it will be stormy, for the sky is red and overcast.’ You know how to interpret the appearance of the sky, but you cannot interpret the signs of the times.” Matthew 16:2-3

Again Jesus says in Matthew 24:

“Watch out that no one deceives you. For many will come in my name, claiming, ‘I am the Messiah,’ and will deceive many. You will hear of wars and rumors of wars, but see to it that you are not alarmed. Such things must happen, but the end is still to come. Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be famines and earthquakes in various places. All these are the beginning of birth pains … Now learn this lesson from the fig tree: As soon as its twigs get tender and its leaves come out, you know that summer is near. Even so, when you see all these things, you know that it  is near, right at the door. Matthew 24:4-33

Christians are familiar with these verses and are probably already interpreting such events as a sign that the return of Christ is drawing nearer, but what is so interesting to me is that even non-believers, who mock the idea of a supernatural God have noticed that something is going on.

This reminds me of the verse from Roman 1:20:

For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse.

If people were without excuse for not recognising and turning to God merely from the evidence of the created world, how much more damning will it be for them when, in response to unusual world-wide events, they acknowledge that “Maybe God is trying to tell us something”, yet still fail to respond to that warning?

 
 
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Worldwide Disaster Trends for the Last 100 or so Years

Some of my friends are in the habit of saying with doom laden glares and heavyset jowls that the end times are drawing near, we are in the last days, Jesus is coming back soon and other things like that. My initial reaction is usually that the things that are happening around us have been happening for centuries. Sure society is changing, sometimes it seems mostly for the worst, but many societies throughout history have undergone growth and decay, including the Romans, Egyptians, Incans, Chinese and many more. Famine, flood and fire have always been with us. So I say to myself, I have to keep a level head and not let the exercise of my faith become paralysed by Jesus-is-coming-back-tomorrow paranoia. Let common sense prevail I say!

But recently I stumbled across the International Disaster Database, which gave me reason to pause. Browsing through its website I came across a list of graphs showing trends in natural disasters for the past 108 years – from 1900 to 2008 – and the graphs show some very interesting data.

In the last 30 years or so the number of recorded natural disasters has grown almost exponentially. I understand that this can probably be explained by the fact that the worldwide disaster reporting infrastructure has improved exponentially over the last 30-50 years and hence the number of reported disasters has been more accurately tracked in more recent times, but I have no information to back this idea up. The agency which records this data was only established in Belgium in 1971 so data prior to that date was probably not as scrupulously collected. However it still makes you sit back and take stock of things.

But, in fact, the director of CRED which is responsible for the International Disaster Database website is on the public record stating that natural disasters have indeed increased over the last ten years: “The number of events have gone up very, very dramatically”. She works with this data every day and so she should be in a position to make a statement like this accurately, in spite of any data collection skewing which might have occurred over the last 108 years.

So natural disasters have indeed been on the rise, especially in the last 10 years. But why? Is it because of climate change? This question has already been asked answered in this TIME article. The answer? No, climate change has not been the major cause of the increase in natural disasters in the recent past. In fact earthquakes have been the most damaging natural disaster in this period, and climate change does not cause earthquakes.

The Bible says that in the last days

There will be great earthquakes, famines and pestilences in various places, and fearful events and great signs from heaven…when you see these things happening, you know that the kingdom of God is near. Luke 21:8-36

Maybe I should start to take more notice of my friends with the doom laden glares and heavyset jowls.

Graph copied with permission from EM-DAT: The OFDA/CRED International Disaster Database – www.emdat.net – Université catholique de Louvain – Brussels – Belgium.